Monday, November 11, 2013

If you go on hiatus, you'd better have something to show for it...

I'm back, after 7 months.  Ouch.  Good thing I've been up to several things.

Christmas is just around the corner (or seems so for those of us who make and sell our own greeting cards!) but until it gets here, I still have time to work on my novel to participate in National Novel Writing Month, co-host a science podcast, and continue to draw non red and green things!

This may seem a tad unfocused to some of you.  If that's the case, I'd say you probably don't know me personally!  Sometimes the best way to operate is in all directions, and then who knows?  After a little while, you just may achieve greatness in multiple areas at once.

While I still sometimes feel I'm in the waiting period for this greatness, I do think I've experienced some small triumphs this year: one of my illustrations was published in an online newsletter and I've finished three quarters of my novel.  Not exactly fame and fortune, but better than where I was a year ago.

I guess what I'm saying is, for all of you out there who are striving for similar things, remember why you're doing it.  Not just for that brilliant, final end goal, but also for the journey.

Please comment and share your own successes.  I'd love to hear them.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Drawing Connections

It's April of 2013, and I'm currently involved in more official projects at once than I ever have been.  I love it!  The newer element for me is that one of the projects is collaborative, something I haven't done in a long time.

Another new element is the type of project: a graphic novel.  That is something I've always wondered if I should do, but have never had a chance or excuse to do.  Again, I love it.

I began the project pretty gung-ho and have remained so since.   It's been constantly pushing my skills as an artist (and my quirks as a slightly OCD perfectionist who loves to draw in ink).  The writer whose work I'm illustrating, Ben, is rewarding to work with as well.  I can't emphasize enough how different a collaborative project is for me, and how interesting it is.

This year is shaping up to be pretty productive, creatively speaking.  Sometimes I forget how much I'm actually working on, and I have to remind myself not to feel guilty for refusing to take on more.

Some of you may already know about my novel in progress, Advice From Ghosts, and may have been reading my serialized posts online.  I appreciate your support and feedback!  John is definitely one of my favorite creations.

Although it's been on the back burner for awhile, I'm also formatting, organizing, and considering illustrating my other writing project, Treasury of Fairy Tales.  I've always thought that it's harder to illustrate my own work than to illustrate someone else's, and this project confirms that belief!  Wish me luck.

In between everything above, I've been working on flyers to advertise for, and paintings to display in, a local show in July.  The two projects are somewhat connected, but the styles involved are so different from each other that I can feel my artistic brain wrinkling up if I even think about them.

Finally, to mention a completed project, (what!?) I designed some T-shirts for my husband's band, Support the Rabid.

So what's next?  Keep drawing and writing like there's no tomorrow.

A little encouragement

As someone who is constantly writing and trying to get over the potentially paralyzing fear of submitting work for publication, stumbling upon this made my day:

"Why I Love the Library"

If you click the link above, you'll be taken to the Sacramento Public Library Newsletter, which features a section called, "Why I Love the Library."

Several months ago, I submitted my personal story to that section, and today I was happy to see that it had been published.  The smaller of possible victories, maybe, but don't they say that the smallest ones are sweetest?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Our Fellow Artists: Traci Cook

"Summer's Night" by Traci Cook

Artist Traci Cook's work represents a bit of a departure from what usually catches my eye--and I love it!  Her art is so whimsical, but at the same time seems to have hidden meaning, like an illustration from a children's book that remains a favorite through adulthood.

"A Quiet Brunch at the Shrewsbury Circus" by Traci Cook

As I explored Cook's gallery, I actually found myself wishing that she would illustrate, and perhaps even write, her own children's book.  Her compositions are beautifully arranged.  Color and shape dance from one corner of the page to the other, drawing the viewer in.  The characters pop off the page with delightful, spunky personality.  I'd have to say the piece that best displays this, and the piece that really caught my eye, is "A Quiet Brunch at the Shrewsbury Circus" (right). The title is fantastic, the robot is everything a robot should be, and who knows what that girl has up her sleeve?  That is one story I'd love to know more about!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Planning a Novel

As I set my sights on completing my next writing project, I asked myself how I was going to map out a storyline based on a man who's lived for 250 years.  That's right, the main character of my next novel is immortal--and John has had enough experiences to fill more than one book, and make a writer crazy!  I decided to get the basic structure of the story together first, and then I'd know how to fully fill in John's timeline, which is a task nearly daunting enough for a whole other blog entry!

I've put so much time into planning out this story that I thought I'd share my efforts on my blog, and possibly give other writers some ideas for organization.  I have to first say that I'd never have been able to put all this together without reading another writer's blog, The Graceful Doe.  Be sure to visit her blog and check out all her great ideas!

Since I'm nowhere near as organized as I appear to be, the outline of the story was not actually the first graphic I designed, but it was much easier to do after I did the (much more fun) character pages.

Nina Boyd.  All rights reserved.

With the help of Adobe InDesign CS5 (Thank you, Ben), I spent a lot of time planning out my character pages, right down to what their bathrooms looked like.

As I completed these layouts, I constantly referred to what I've never been able to do without: a "To Do" list:

The timeline was the most important piece for keeping my sanity, and the storyline was much less overwhelming after I made it.

Nina Boyd.
All rights reserved.

Finally, after designing a cover, I was able to upload part of the novel onto my current favorite site for sharing my writing.

Needless to say, putting together this kind of detail can be time consuming, but after doing it I really felt that these characters and the story they told were real.  I also achieved the main goal I had in doing all of this, which was to plan, plan, plan, and then be free to write to my heart's content without worrying about inadvertently creating plot holes.

I hope this is useful to all you other writers!  

You can read the first two chapters of my novel here.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Our Fellow Artists: Emma Uber

"Rosette" by Emma Uber
Artist Emma Uber is truly inspiring.  I came across one of her pieces by accident one day and was immediately struck by its vivid colors, but when I followed the image back to its source and began reading about Uber on her site, her encouraging story struck me even more.  It is one with which all artists can sympathize:

"Mere days before she was discovered, Emma Uber nearly gave up on her dream of being a professional artist... The 30-year old artist in Adelaide, Australia had a quiet Tumblr page, but few sales, and Emma had few expectations that her prospects would change....

'I was creating all these paintings that were just sitting in my house. I had friends saying ‘you know, you’ve got good paintings there.’ I thought ‘maybe if I just get rid of them all, it would somehow stir something up, and I’ll be able to look at it, and go ‘I feel better, all those paintings are gone, I can get on with whatever I’m supposed to do.'  

"Flowerbed" by Emma Uber
And yet, despite all the reasons telling her to start over, Emma decided to give her art career a little more time. 
It was good that she did. In early April of 2012, a blog called the Cool Hunter picked up her work and featured it. Within hours, Emma was inundated with hundreds of new followers to her Tumblr page, and an intimidating amount of new attention."  ~ 

Uber's work is always eye-catching, often breathtaking, and nothing short of fabulous.  As I explored her site that day, I found piece after piece to fall in love with.  I have always had a particular weakness for portraits, especially of women with flowing hair--there's just so much texture and line to celebrate!--and Uber's pieces never disappoint.  Each painting is a perfect blend of realism and the abstract, and each painting has a magical feel to it that whimsically blends foreground and background together.  Color and passion leap off the canvas as one, framing Uber's portraits with unforgettable character.

So, having completed my journey through Uber's colorful world, I invite other viewers to explore it too.  Take a few minutes, lose yourselves in her paintings, and experience the joy of her art.

See more of Emma Uber's work:


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Our Fellow Artists: Adriana Mekan

"Disambiguation" by Adriana Mekan

Adriana Mekan's style immediately caught my eye.  From luxuriant color pieces like "Tree of Souls" to iconic graphic works like "Transanencephaly," Mekan proves again and again that design could be her middle name.  Each composition I looked at was just begging to be displayed in a coffee shop, or tattooed on an arm, or featured in a book.  The versatility of her images was amazing.

It is easy for the viewer to get lost in the intricate, hypnotic patterns and the meticulous line work that characterize Mekan's pieces, but the feel of each piece is just as intriguing.  Every line, every color, each tiny movement, all contribute to a strong emotion that bursts from the page as vividly as the art itself.

When I first came across Mekan's gallery, I wanted to know, right away, about the artist behind the work.  Her style is incredibly distinctive, but there are still many nuances within it to be explored.  Mekan's beautifully created imagery is like an interesting conversation you'd overhear in a crowded room.  It invites you to listen for awhile, and then you have to jump in and participate.  

I asked Mekan about her work and creative process:

"Arena of the Wretched"

How do you promote your work?  

I promote my work through several different ways.  I try and keep up my appearance on the internet through social networks and art sites such as Imagekind and Deviantart.  I have a few Facebook pages to share and promote my work as well as a Tumblr.  Outside of the E-world I keep in touch with the local artist community.  (I live in Denver, CO)  I hang my art up in galleries when I get the chance and take part in events when they come up.

One of your galleries is called Art After Midnight.  Can we interpret that literally, and what inspires you in those late hours? 

Art After Midnight has a few meanings in addition to the fact that I feel it just has a nice ring to it.  I generally feel more motivated late at night when I cannot sleep and I think these late hours have had a bit of influence over my dark style.  My initials are also AM which could be seen as ante meridiem from the 24hour day. You know, am/pm. :)

Discuss the artists who have been most influential to you.

This is a slightly difficult question considering I find new artists almost every day that inspire me.  I have always been a huge fan or the Old Masters, DaVinci, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, etc.  I also really enjoy the subconscious approach of the surrealists.  My top favorites at the moment I would say are Zdzislaw Beksinski and Peter Gric.  I think those two have very unique styles completely different from anyone else.  I enjoy how Beksinski draws from his dreams and the rather opposing constructive work of Gric that comes from his architectural experience.

"Tree of Souls" by Adriana Mekan
When did you first feel successful as an artist?

Haha. :)  What is "success"?  I would say I still have moments where I don't feel like I have gotten as far as I would like to.  On the other hand I have moments where nothing matters and I am just painting for myself.  I think to let go of expectations completely and just enjoy the process of creation would be where any artist would find success.

"Transanencephaly" by Adriana Mekan

See more of Adriana Mekan:
prints site

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nose to the Grindstone...

I've been a bit behind on my blogging lately, mostly because I'm editing a novel to enter in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Contest.  To be honest, it's quite nerve-wracking, especially as I sit here reading pitches from previous winners and wondering if my story even compares!  But the whole point of entering all these contests is to push for excellence in my writing, so I suppose the nail-biting is worth it.

Submission begins January 14th.  Wish me luck!

A girl.  A quest.  An unexpected ending...

     Although Rain didn’t see him at first, one townsperson paid her a great deal of attention.  He had been told to watch for a girl traveling alone.  Well, traveling alone except for a large hunting dog-- but a dog hardly qualified as a useful escort for a young woman walking along these roads, no matter how large he was.  She might as well be traveling alone.  There was a shortage of any girls at all traveling between towns—and none of them would travel alone, not these days.  

     This was definitely her. 

     He smiled to himself and raised his voice.  Now there was a reason to say what he had been yelling all morning.  She wouldn’t be able to miss him.

      Crowds moved around her neatly, immersed in afternoon shopping and selling.  The general hum of conversation was muted here, prim and restrained, which made the voice rising above it even more noticeable.
     “Evil is here!  It has reached us even in this fair city!  What is its root, you ask?  No one knows where evil comes from, but we all feel it when it strikes!”
     “Crackpot,” Rain muttered to Hunter as they passed the youth standing in the middle of the path.  
“If we continue to ignore it, we’ll never know what’s behind the eyes watching us from the shadows.”
     Rain turned on the spot, mid-step.
     “What did you say?” she asked.
     He looked surprised that someone had actually been listening.
     “I’m sorry,” he said politely, “I wasn’t aware that people usually paid much attention to crackpots.”
     “Only if they’ve got something interesting to say,” Rain replied, undaunted.  She patted Hunter and he sat down beside her.  “What do you mean about the eyes?”
     “You’ve seen them, haven’t you.”
     “What makes you think so?”
     “No one else has listened to me, let alone come up to me to talk about what I’m saying.”
     “Someone pointed them out to me,” Rain explained grimly.  “I left home to get away from whatever was watching me there.”
     “Where are you headed?”
     “To find my father.  He's traveling, and I have to warn him before he starts to head for home.”